Streaming was the major focus for the first day of the Midem music industry conference, with a series of sessions exploring the opportunities around streaming and subscriptions.
There were also sessions examining the opportunities to do business in China and India, as well as a panel providing tips and strategies for breaking America.
One of the industry’s buzz terms in 2017 is ‘hi-res audio’, thanks to major labels, hardware firms and streaming services launching a new drive to convince music fans that better streaming audio-quality is worth paying for.
A panel debate saw some of the hi-res audio fans within the industry making their case, including 7digital’s Pete Downton; MQA’s Mike Jbara; Qobuz’s Malcolm Ouzeri; Sony Music’s Andre Stapleton; and Universal Music’s Ty Roberts. The session was sponsored by the Digital Entertainment Group, whose Marc Finer moderated.
“The install base is pretty much there already… But it’s got to be simple for the consumer. If the consumer has to read and figure this out for themselves, you’re never going to drive mass adoption,” said Downton, later adding that “the home and the car is an incredible opportunity for us to lift the bar, and deliver those better experiences”.
New frontiers for western artists and music companies were also high on the agenda during Midem 2017’s first day. That included a session focused on how to do better business in China.
Cherry Chunfei Guo, intellectual property and corporate affairs lawyer at Tiantai Law; TC Pan, CEO of Ultimate Music China; and Billy Koh, founder of Amusic Rights Management, talked trends and partnerships, moderated by Ed Peto, MD of Outdustry.
“All the big portals like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu are investing heavily to buy exclusive copyrights from even the three majors,” argued Pan. “As they invest so much money in these copyrights, they have got to make it back one way or the other. Ad-supported is just not the way. It takes too long and the money is not coming in as quick as just getting people to pay for it. The big platforms will definitely push for the paid market to be even more mature.”
India is another music market with huge potential, but also considerable challenges for western companies and artists to tackle if they want to succeed there.
A panel including Mandar Thakur, chief operating officer at Times Music; Sonya Mazumdar, CEO of EarthSync India; and Gaurav Sharma, VP of growth and data science at Saavn – again moderated by Outdustry’s Ed Peto – explored the opportunities.
“In what are the early days of digital music’s arrival in India where we effectively have the giant Bollywood structure smashing into this new digital ecosystem, it is primarily done by licensing those catalogues into a service via a minimum guarantee deal,” said Peto.
“If you are part of one of those deals, then you participate in a negotiated minimum guarantee. If you are outside of the ability to be a part of that catalogue, you almost don’t participate in a meaningful way.”
Streaming was never far from front-of-mind during Midem’s first day, though. One session explored how independent labels can make the most of the streaming era, against stiff competition from majors.
The panel included Raoul Chatterjee, director of content partnerships for Europe at SoundCloud; Roberto Neri, MD of Downtown Music Publishing; and Thaddeus Rudd, co-president of Mom and Pop. It was moderated by Zach Fuller, media analyst at Midia Research.
“The current conditions require artists to be ambitious and savvy in terms of spreading their music. I wouldn’t say ‘marketing’ their music necessarily, because Courtney Barnett doesn’t ‘market’ her music,” said Rudd. “But that music is going to spread and be shared differently, and that’s an opportunity. It’s made artists that might have been bespoke and niche and cult have the potential to reach many more people.”
There was also a session examining some of the new business models and partnerships that are emerging around streaming, often outside the biggest western markets.
A panel including Simon Cole, CEO of 7digital; Andy Ng, VP at Tencent Music Entertainment; and Geir Skaaden, EVP chief product and services officer at XPERI outlined some of the opportunities.
“There are 100 million people paying to stream and maybe another 200 million streaming for three. There are three billion people listening to the radio every day. Those people are going to be the streamers of the future,” said Cole.
“The people who are going to become engaged with digital music from now on… are going to be those people who want some help. The question for me is what’s the entry model for those people? What’s the pricing model? How do you get them into the industry?”
Another session today focused on artists and labels wanting to break America, offering tips and techniques from experts on the market.
The panel included Michele Amar, director of the US Office, Bureau Export; John Katovsich, VP of theatrical music at Lionsgate; Andreas Katsambas, recording executive at BMG; and Andrea Da Silva, global team leader, media and entertainment at the US Department of Commerce. The Bloom Effect’s Fiona Bloom moderated.
“A lot of American audiences want to literally understand what they are listening to,” said Da Silva of the issues that non-English speaking acts face here. “There is definitely a demand for English-language content… The US is a market where you want to sing in English. I like to hear foreign language but I haven’t seen that take up in the US like it has in other markets […] Come prepared and make yourself look like you are integrating yourself into the community already.”
Our other coverage from day one of Midem 2017
What’s next for music-streaming services?
Tencent Music’s Andy Ng talks China and expansion
Local streaming services: Anghami, Hungama and more
Digital distributors talk music-streaming
We’ve also been interviewing some of the UK attendees at this year’s Midem to find out what they’re excited about in 2017:
— Music Ally (@MusicAlly) June 6, 2017
— Music Ally (@MusicAlly) June 6, 2017
Music Ally’s Midem 2017 coverage is supported this year by Music is GREAT, the British government’s campaign to promote UK music exports.
The UK and British Music are represented through the British Music at Midem stand, with the Department for International Trade joining forces with music industry associations AIM (Association of Independent Music), BPI (British Phonographic Industry), MPA (Music Publishers Association), PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) and PRS for Music.
Together, they will support over 150 UK music businesses and member delegates as they seek to pick up on the latest trends, connect with international companies, sign deals and develop trading and export opportunities.